By Gary Schwind
Patrick Ames is a singer-songwriter who has the very enviable position of living on a vineyard in California wine country. He grew up around music with his mom singing opera and singing in church and his brothers listening to a lot of Motown. He started writing songs when he was 14 and returned to it more recently. Of his writing, he said, “Writing songs is like writing poems, only with more tools at your disposal.”
On the new EP Liveness, Ames shows his ability as both a singer and storyteller who is not afraid to include some social commentary in his lyrics.
The album begins on an interesting note. “Bang Bang Bang” has the stripped-down feel of something you’d hear performed by beatniks. It’s one part spoken word, one part blues, one part Bill Withers, and one part Gil Scott-Heron. The Heron influence is obvious with the social commentary throughout the song. At one point, he sings, “Hate is now endorsed by politicians. If they can tax it, they can make America great.” More overtly, he quotes Heron and says, “The revolution will not be televised.”
He follows that with “I Want You” – a song that features only guitar and vocals. This is a song inspired by 70s bossa nova artists like Antonio Carlos Jobim. The bossa nova sound is captured well in both the guitar and the breathy backing vocals.
Ames shows what can be done with minimal instrumentation. Not only that, but because the melodies are so spare, you pay more attention to the message in these songs. Whether it’s a story about watching your parents slow dance in the living room or wanting to believe in something more than technology, the messages are worth listening to. The biggest problem with the six songs on this EP is that you wish there were more of them. Liveness was released on April 4 and is available now. Order your copy here.